(source of the photo © European Parliament audovisual service)
The euphoria of the ‘Big-bang’, the ‘historic enlargement’ of the EU in 2004 has been passed long ago.
Some consider that the promise of the reunification of the old continent has been broken, the promised land has never come for the newcomers.
Instead of re-uniting East and West, new mental fracture poison the European minds nowadays: everybody openly speaks about the differences between the North and the South, about austerity and growth, and blaming iconic countries of both groups became a common place everywhere.
Unfortunately, in spite of all respected atteimpts in the last 8 years, existing inequalities between the children of different European citizens remained and strengthened in time.
The country of birth, and the financial conditions of the family (if there is any) predicts and define the future possibilities of every new born children.
However, these existing inequalities are unfair and – in many cases – preventable with the right political choices.
Will the European Year of Citizens 2013 eliminate those inequalities?
Do you really think that the magic of words without serious commitments, enough financial sources and immediate and concrete actions will work?
Honestly, people and families living under the poverty treshold are fed up with solemn declarations and inaction. Children deprived of parents and essential goods cannot wait until the next elections (by the way, they do not vote at all).
No, I am afraid that this noble initiative alone cannot resolve the most important problems of the EU.
What is my message to Strassbourg where the representatives of European Citizens will discuss the Programme of the Irish presidency?
Being an EU presidency veteran too, I am aware the material, legal and political limits of each presidencies. Thus, it would not be fair from my part to make irrealistic and idealistic demands.
But thoughts are still free and are not bound by any law.
Thus, the Irish Presidency can still speak freely and put fresh thoughts and original ideas on the table. Here are some of them to start with:
1. Open your mind: GDP is not the only factor which describes the overall productivity of a society.
Start talking about other indicators in the European Semester, in Europe 2020 goals, especially in case of countries strongly hit by the crisis. Indicators such as the reduced unemployment rate and people avoiding poverty due social expenditures, public health figures, suicide and other mental health status indicators, air emissions, quality and availability of clear water, educational and research data etc.
Our society is far more than just pure economy and the dry numbers of the financial sector.
2. Invite interested, especially social and health ministers to ECOFIN meetings!
Financial ministers decide about budget cuts which mainly concern the social and health sectors. Are the financial experts really aware of the crual social costs of the strict decisions? Can the gained percentages counterweigh the loss of lifes? Who decide in fact about the social and health sector: the ministers of finance or the minsiters of social affairs/health?
3. Start long term thinking. Take healthy ageing seriously (which starts before the birth) Put children at the heart of all policies.
Children are future adults. Their health status and overall well-being is crucial. Only a cross-cutting policy which concentrates on their specific needs can secure the long term future of the EU. The shape of the EU in 2033 can be decided only now and not in 2032!
The situation will not change unless European Decision makers make the right choices.
The time for action has come, and it is right now. Demonstrations, political turmoils, separatist movements and international tensions clearly pave the way for a possible but avoidable cataclism.
By avoiding the difficult questions and making the usual, so called ‘historic’ pseudo-decisions are not enough anymore. The ‘historic’ mark has been used too often for meaningless summits, ad-hoc ideas and egoist political manoeuvres, too, not only in the first paragraph of this blog entry…
I remain at your disposal.
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Related earlier updates:EU ZMK's Diary